Follow Up Support after Teacher Professional Development  

ISTE standard: Professional Learning Facilitator 

Coaches plan, provide and evaluate the impact of professional learning for educators and leaders to use technology to advance teaching and learning. Coaches: 

c. Evaluate the impact of professional learning and continually make improvements in order to meet the schoolwide vision for using technology for high-impact teaching and learning. 

Successful implementation of education technologies depends upon extensive, high-quality teacher professional development and ongoing support (Martin et al. 2010). PD opportunities offered in many districts often are traditional one-time workshops that do not provide sufficient time to help teachers effectively use technology in their specific context and teaching practices. How to plan effective professionally learning and provide continuous support to educators in using educational technology?   

The goal of professional development is the effective implementation of skills and strategies that enhance knowledge and transfer of learning (CDC, 2019). According to Trotter (2006), research around adult learning has identified four key principles for high-quality teacher learning activities: 

  • Use of concrete experiences (i.e., coherence): Activities that are explicitly linked to curriculum teachers use, their classroom/school context, and their individual needs and interests. 
  • Continuously available feedback (i.e., sustained duration): Activities that provide teachers with sufficient time to learn and reflect on strategies that improve their practice. 
  • Encouragement of teachers to take on new and complex roles (i.e., active learning): Activities that provide teachers with opportunities to get hands-on experiences in designing and/or trying new instructional strategies. 
  • Collaboration (i.e., collective participation): Activities that give teachers the opportunities to share their ideas, work collaboratively, and help with each other’s learning. 

I find the second key principle, continuously available feedback, has been the missing key for many professional developments for teachers. Effective professional development includes the planning for and provision of one or more follow-up support strategies after a professional development event. Follow-up support is intended to strengthen the transfer of learned strategies or skills so they will be retained and applied effectively. It may take place over time and can be altered as the needs of the participants change. Follow-up support is not the introduction of new information; it is the reinforcement of information provided at the professional development event (CDC, 2019).

The World Bank Blog (2021) also suggested 8 tips to help policymakers structure an effective one-on-one teacher support system: 

  1. Determine whether the system would benefit most from a ‘highly structured” support model or a “low structured” support model. 
  1. Regardless of the support model, ensure pedagogical leaders do not simultaneously support teachers and act as their evaluators. 
  1. Ensure pedagogical leaders are not responsible for too many teachers. 
  1. Ensure pedagogical leaders are visiting teachers at least once per month and for the duration of the school year. 
  1. When conducting classroom observations, ensure pedagogical leaders use a classroom observation tool and observe teachers for the full duration of the lesson. 
  1. Ensure pedagogical leaders provide feedback to teachers following an observation. 
  1. If in-person support is not possible, encourage pedagogical leaders to provide feedback and encouragement through a hybrid model of virtual and on-site support.  
  1. Programs that focus on providing ongoing support to teachers must be embedded within a larger system infrastructure focused on supporting, motivating, and developing teachers throughout their full career cycle. 

Too often technology professional learning is one time event, because it is facilitated by people outside of the school community. Digital Promise (2020) suggested that creating an environment where teachers are supporting one another in learning and implementing new teaching strategies, tools, and frameworks throughout the year will both increase collaboration among teachers and help to spread best practices. This environment can be created and maintained using instructional technology coaches, teams of teacher leaders, or other systems of support within schools. 

Finally, to provide ongoing support to teachers, particularly in learning educational technology, schools should harness the power of instructional technology coaches, leverage the expertise of teacher leaders, and provide opportunities for peer-led professional learning, for example, implement peer demonstration classrooms that allow teachers to use new tools and teaching strategies while being observed by peers who can provide feedback and get ideas about how to use those same tools and strategies in their own classrooms (Digital Promise, 2020).  

Reference  

Martin, W., Strother, S.A., Beglau, M., Bates, L., Reitzes, T., & McMillan Culp, K. (2010). Connecting Instructional Technology Professional Development to Teacher and Student Outcomes. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43, 53 – 74. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ898528.pdf 

Trotter, Y. D. (2006). Adult Learning Theories: Impacting Professional Development Programs. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 72(2). https://verizon.digitalpromise.org/elements-of-success/provide-ongoing-embedded-professional-learning-opportunities-for-teachers/ 

Provide ongoing, embedded professional learning opportunities for teachers (2020) Digital Promise. https://verizon.digitalpromise.org/elements-of-success/provide-ongoing-embedded-professional-learning-opportunities-for-teachers/ 

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Follow-up Support Tool Kit. (2019) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/tths/followup_toolkit-508.pdf 

8 Tips to Structure Effective One-to-One Support Systems for Teachers. Wilichowski, T. & Popova, A., (2021). World Bank Blog. https://blogs.worldbank.org/education/8-tips-structure-effective-one-one-support-systems-teachers 

Differentiated Technology Integration PD for Educators

ISTE Coaching Standard 3 Collaborator

Coaches establish productive relationships with educators in order to improve instructional practice and learning outcomes. Coaches:

d.Personalize support for educators by planning and modeling the effective use of technology to improve student learning.

While teachers are expected to differentiate their instruction to meet their students’ needs, too often we treat professional learning differently than we treat student learning. Differentiation has not been modeled well in most of the professional developments for educators, especially in technology integration professional developments. How to ensure coaches and leaders differentiate and personalize educators’ training and professional developments in learning technology to meet the needs of educators with different knowledge and backgrounds in technology?

According to Randi and Zeichner (2005), the current emphasis on accountability for student performance on national and state tests has been directing some schools to select particular curriculum interventions and research-based practices they deem most likely to improve instruction and increase student achievement and then design staff development programs around the content of those interventions. In order to “demonstrate immediate results, schools may pay more attention to “what works” in the short term than to research findings about

how best to design and sustain teacher professional learning opportunities for the continuing growth of both teachers and students” (Randi & Zeichner, 2005, p180). 

Randi and Zeichner argued that although focused staff development activities designed to introduce or sustain the implementation of a common curriculum may build organizational capacity and unite teachers around the shared visions of the organization, they provide teachers little choice about their own professional learning and little autonomy in instructional decisions, which limits teachers’ choices about their own learning and limits their access to knowledge and may leave them with an insufficient knowledge (Randi & Zeichner, 2005, p194)

According to the Center for Public Education’s Teaching the Teachers report, almost all teachers participate in PD throughout the year. However, a majority of those teachers find the PD in which they participate ineffective.Therefore, Zdonek(2016) suggested that the following simple but effective strategies to improve teacher professional development sessions through differentiation:

1. Gauge teachers’ readiness by taking a survey of teachers to see what they know about a professional development topic, and how skilled they consider themselves in that area. This information will also allow you to tailor the PD session to meet teacher needs, designing smaller group sessions with flexible groupings to instruct teachers at their varying readiness levels.

2. Utilize teachers’ interests by taking some time to figure out what teachers themselves want to improve upon. When they work on areas of their interest, they’re more likely to be engaged, making the work more productive — just like with students.

3. Get teachers involved by allowing teachers that have skills or experience to run smaller group sessions. It provides leadership opportunities for teachers and develops a sense of ownership over the school improvement process.

4. Provide opportunities for continual assessment by providing time for teachers to discuss and reflect on how they are incorporating the given area of development into their classroom practice. Have opportunities for feedback, allow teachers to set goals, provide continuous support, and assess progress toward the goals they’ve set.

In addition to these general PD strategies, we might also want to look specifically into professional development focusing on technology integration for educators. The goal of successful technology professional development is its integration into teaching to impact student learning. Teachers are participating in technology learning professional development with different readiness and background. 

https://www.nysut.org/~/media/files/nysut/resources/2011/march/educators-voice-4-technology/edvoiceiv_ch7.pdf?la=en

Professional development provides educators the opportunity to understand new advancements and adapt their teaching styles and pedagogy to make effective use of available educational enhancements. How to ensure these PDs are customized to meet educators’ needs? Moynihan (2014) recommended the following 7 tips for integrating technology professional development. 

  • Provide ongoing support by delivering immediately usable solutions to the daily challenges that teachers will face when making major curricular changes in their subject areas.
  • Promote understanding of technology pedagogical practices by providing extensive training in both pedagogy and technology.
  • Encourage teacher participation because teachers who participate in a PD program that includes coaching or mentoring are more likely to implement new instructional methods.
  • Adopt a learner‐centered pedagogy because technology is less effective when used to support traditional “teacher‐centered” pedagogies, which tend to use technology as a supplement rather than as a core element of instruction.
  • Provide access to online information repositories that offer teachers continuous and convenient access to relevant teaching resources.
  • School structure should be “policies, practices, culture, and funding” to facilitate the integration of educational technology.
  • Make use of the technologies that teachers will be using. The ISTE notes that “learning with technology is more important than learning about technology.” Teachers benefit by seeing what and how they can learn through available technological tools.

Mazzella(2011) suggested technology can make a difference in supporting student learning, however, this cannot happen by merely providing classrooms with the latest equipment. Instructional technology integration will occur across all grade levels and in all content areas when it is supported by professional development that is differentiated and sustained over time.

References 

Randi, J. and Zeichner, K. (2005). New Visions of Teacher Professional Development. 

Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education 103(1):180 – 227. Retrieved July, 28th, 2021 from  https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kenneth-Zeichner/publication/227988786_New_Visions_of_Teacher_Professional_Development/links/573f43e808aea45ee844fb32/New-Visions-of-Teacher-Professional-Development.pdf

Zdonek, P. (2016). Why Don’t We Differentiate Professional Development?. Retrieved July, 28th, 2021 from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-dont-we-differentiate-pd-pauline-zdonek

Moynihan, A. (2014) 7 PD tips for your instructional technology integration plan. Retrieved July, 28th, 2021 from https://www.eschoolnews.com/2014/07/10/professional-development-technology-922/

Mazzella, N, (2011). What are We Learning About Technology Integration and Professional Development? Retrieved July, 28th, 2021 from https://www.nysut.org/~/media/files/nysut/resources/2011/march/educators-voice-4-technology/edvoiceiv_ch7.pdf?la=en